Shanghai Prepares To End Lockdown After Two Months
Before a two-month lockdown is lifted at midnight, Shanghai authorities have begun dismantling walls around housing estates and removing police tape from public squares and buildings, much to the relief of the city's 25 million residents.
On Monday evening, those who were permitted to leave their complexes for brief walks took advantage of the suspension of traffic to enjoy a beer and ice cream on the lonely streets, but they remained wary and anxious.
Most will remain confined to their homes until midnight, as they have been for the previous two months under a lockdown that has resulted in economic losses, stress, and despair for millions who are unable to obtain food or essential medical care.
The extended isolation has fueled public outrage and uncommon protests in Shanghai, as well as harmed the manufacturing- and export-heavy economy of the city, disrupting supply lines in China and around the world and slowing international trade.
On Wednesday, the passes provided by residential buildings to let inhabitants to leave for a few hours will be revoked, public transportation will restart, and residents will be able to return to work.
"Now that I'm returning to work so abruptly, I'm a little anxious," said resident and educator Joseph Mak. " It is difficult to accept that it is actually occurring," he added.
The loosening of restrictions only applies to those in low-risk zones, or approximately 22.5 million people.
Residents must continue to wear masks and are discouraged from congregating in these places. The restriction on dining in restaurants remains in effect. Shops can function at 75 percent of their capacity. Later, gyms will reopen.
Residents will be required to submit to COVID-19 testing every 72 hours in order to use public transportation and visit public venues. Still to come is a rigorous quarantine for anyone who tests positive and their close connections.
China is the only large country with a "Zero COVID-19" policy that attempts to eradicate all outbreaks as soon as they occur, regardless of the cost. Uncertainty exists on whether frequent testing can keep Omicron under control.
As restrictions in major manufacturing areas were gradually eased in May, economic activity in China partially rebounded from a dismal April. Nevertheless, movement restrictions remained lowered demand and limited production.
Tuesday saw the publishing of the British Chamber of Commerce's annual position paper, which warned that pandemic restrictions and future uncertainties were having a negative impact on British companies in China.